Incidence and correlates of near-death experiences in a cardiac care unit

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2003;25(4):269-76. doi: 10.1016/s0163-8343(03)00042-2.

Abstract

Near-death experiences, unusual experiences during a close brush with death, may precipitate pervasive attitudinal and behavior changes. The incidence and psychological correlates of such experiences, and their association with proximity to death, are unclear. We conducted a 30-month survey to identify near-death experiences in a tertiary care center cardiac inpatient service. In a consecutive sample of 1595 patients admitted to the cardiac inpatient service (mean age 63 years, 61% male), of whom 7% were admitted with cardiac arrest, patients who described near-death experiences were matched with comparison patients on diagnosis, gender, and age. Near-death experiences were reported by 10% of patients with cardiac arrest and 1% of other cardiac patients (P<.001). Near-death experiencers were younger than other patients (P=.001), were more likely to have lost consciousness (P<.001) and to report prior purportedly paranormal experiences (P=.009), and had greater approach-oriented death acceptance (P=.01). Near-death experiencers and comparison patients did not differ in sociodemographic variables, social support, quality of life, acceptance of their illness, cognitive function, capacity for physical activities, degree of cardiac dysfunction, objective proximity to death, or coronary prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Cardiology Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Death*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / psychology
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Virginia